Singh Relaxed Ready for Augusta

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Vijay Singh can still remember that day in April of 1994 very well. It was his first Masters, he was coming in as a rookie participant, and the first sight of the clubhouse and the incredible foliage surrounding it was just a bit overwhelming for one person to absorb.
 
And if he could choose just one tradition to savor, he doesnt hesitate in the slightest. Its that first peek at Augusta National Golf Club.
 
I guess driving up the Magnolia Lane, he said of the one custom that he finds most revealing about the Masters.
 
We came the other day and it was just a good sight. I had not come back in a year. The last time I played here was last year, and just driving up there, you know, it's a great feeling. You get the chills going again, you feel fired up. I guess that's one of the biggest.
 
And playing the golf course. This is, to me, the hardest test of golf we play. It requires the whole package. You can't come here with one part of the game missing. You're just not going to function. This golf course, it's exciting me to come over here and play the tournament.
 
Its been a great couple of years for Singh. Last year he was tours leading money winner. He burst out of the starting gate with at least a top 10 in his first four tournaments. Lately he has slipped a little with no top 10s in his five succeeding events. But over-all, its the best time of his life.
 
I'm enjoying my game and I look forward to going out there and playing, Singh said. You know, I know I can go out there and win every time I tee up if I play the way I know how.
 
Off the golf course, I'm pretty relaxed. I have a great family, great friends that I deal with. It's the first time my dad's ever here, so it's good to see him out here at the Masters. I'm just having a great time.
 
Its a much more mellow Singh that were seeing today. Hes in his mid-40s now. He is well-liked on the PGA Tour by his fellow players. He entertained them with a big party at his home during The Players Championship. He is looked upon as the wise elder statesmen by many of the youngsters. Following a rather strained relationship with the media, a slow thaw has developed. More than anything, people are beginning to realize what the Fijian is all about personally.
 
I think I'm more relaxed because I don't have a need to go to the driving range, say I missed an hour or something, Singh said. My game is to a point where I just have to warm up, go work on a few bits and pieces and go out and play.
 
I'm comfortable with how I'm playing. I know how to fix my problems. Probably that's why I'm a little bit more less tense about my game. I'm always pretty tense about my game. Obviously I'm 40 odd years old now.
 
Singh says the problems he has had of late have all revolved around his putting. But he feels that he has the kinks worked out. The pros who live around Ponte Vedra Beach requested that the TPC greens be left at a lightning-fast speed last week. That way, the greens simulated the Augusta greens.
 
I had a good practice session last week, he said. I played well at TPC, but my putting wasn't up to standard. I worked a little bit on it and got one or two tips last week. I feel like I'm putting a lot better this week, and my whole game is good.
 
For some reason when I come into the gates, my game just lifts another level. Hopefully I just maintain that for the whole week.
 
Vijay is still Vijay, of course. And he has worked on much more than just his putting. A Singh session is very thorough, as any pro can readily tell you.
 
I've been working on the same thing for the last five, six years; good setup, good position on the top, using my hips. There are about five or six different things. And working with it for so long, I think it's just come down to a point that I am doing all of those things correctly now, and probably that's why you see my golf game has improved, as well, said Singh.
 
According to the World Rankings, Singh is still No. 2. But in GolfWeek magazines rankings, he has leapfrogged over Tiger Woods into the No. 1 spot. Thats nice, he says, but the world still recognizes Tiger is No. 1. That, he feels, hasnt changed yet.
 
I think it's still very intimidating when he's up there just because he's been up there for so long, he said. But I think the standard of play has just lifted a little bit. You look at the scorings this year, it's incredible how guys are scoring so much better and there's so many different guys that are doing the same thing.
 
You know, Tiger is Tiger. I don't know if he's not playing well now or he just is waiting for the majors, I have no idea. I just speak for the rest of the guys; I think our play has gone a step higher, and that's closed the gap, if there was one.
 
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